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FBI Releases Egregious Crime Footage; Tense Chinese Talks Kick Off in Alaska; Comparing New York, California and Florida COVID-19 Responses. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 19, 2021 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI is now making an appeal to the public, trying to get anyone out there who can help to identify 10 people suspected of what it is calling egregious crimes against police officers during the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And these crimes were caught on video, and they're disturbing but you really have to watch them. The agency released a series of graphic videos showing some of the suspects beating police with metal poles, spraying officers with chemicals, pulling on their masks -- you see that in the upper left-hand corner.

Joining us now is Asha Rangappa, she's a former FBI special agent and CNN legal and national security analyst. You know, Asha, when I look at this, we're more than two months later, 2.5 months later. To have 10 folks still at large, given the wealth of video evidence here and very clear pictures of their faces, FBI reaching out to the public for help. Are you surprised at this point, they haven't been able to find out more about these people yet?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, Jim. I mean, I think when we look at these videos, we see what a Herculean task it's been for the FBI, just given the sheer number of people and the chaos that's going on there.

I think actually, it's really a testament to their dedication, to homing in on every single person to create these individualized videos. And if you see, they've been able to use technology to get close-ups of faces, to actually isolate exactly what people are doing, what kinds of weapons they're using.

And so you know, I think it's going to take time. It's just a lot of people, and I think for (ph) the serious charges like this, they are, you know, doing especially dedicated effort as we see in this series of 10 videos.

HARLOW: You have also said, given the outrageous comments by some sitting lawmakers including Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, you know, calling the mob people who love this country, that these videos being released are also really important just for, you know, historical testimony, like as a record of history.

RANGAPPA: Exactly, Poppy. This is a record of exactly what happened, and these were not peace-loving people. We see incredibly violent acts happening here. In addition to countering this new narrative that this was not any kind of violent insurrection, there were also, you know, suggestions that people weren't armed.

And what the FBI has told us is that they were armed. And even if it wasn't firearms, they were carrying bear spray, metal poles, using flag poles, using the police officers' own shields. In one case, a police officer was attacked with a drawer that was apparently taken from a desk.

So this was a violent attack, and I think it is important that it has been recorded so that these other narratives can't whitewash what actually happened.

SCIUTTO: What is the progress of these investigations? We already have dozens of people charged, they're still looking for some. But how long will it take to, you know, reach completion of some of these trials here? Because you know, listen, it's a long process but they've made a lot of progress so far.

RANGAPPA: Yes, I think it's going to depend on the severity of the charge. Because as you get into more serious crimes with longer sentences, you have more elements to prove for those crimes, and you have a more stringent state of mind requirement, that people were doing this. For example, for conspiracy, you need to show that they were intentional and knowing in what they're doing, same thing for these assaults.

So you know, I think what we're seeing is a progression. We saw initial arrests on minor charges like trespassing and vandalism, we're now seeing these things where people are being charged, to just last week, and (ph) 65 overall -- for assaulting law enforcement officers, which will carry severe penalties.

And then I think the conspiracy charges, which will really get into subpoenaing records, communications and also having these people turn on each other to give information so that the prosecutors can bring changes and be able to prove them in court.

HARLOW: Asha, thank you for all of that, it's good to have you.

RANGAPPA: Thank you.


HARLOW: Kicking off with insults, the first major talks between the Biden administration and the Chinese delegation devolve into a back- and-forth war of words. What prompted the public spat between superpowers, next.


SCIUTTO: A tense, even combative start to the first high-level talks between the Biden administration and Chinese officials. It was a rare public blow-up in front of reporters, coming at the very beginning of talks as the two sides sat down for a photo op before two days of meetings in Alaska.

HARLOW: Let's go to our Kylie Atwood, she joins us from the State Department this morning.

Kylie, as Jim said, super-rare for something like this to happen. But explain why it matters so much, that it actually did happen.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it matters because this is the first face-to-face between U.S. and Chinese officials of the Biden administration. Secretary Blinken opened remarks at this series of meetings by talking about the importance of upholding the international rules-based order.


And he told the Chinese during these opening remarks that he was going to be discussing areas of deep concern for the U.S. with regard to China: what they're doing in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, economic coercion of U.S. allies.

And then that's what prompted the Chinese side to really grow combative in its response. They delivered about a 15-minute response going after the United States, essentially accusing them of hypocrisy, going after the fact that there are divisions in U.S. society, referencing Black Lives Matter protests.

And then Blinken felt like he had to respond, and he talked about the U.S. not being a perfect place, but talked about the fact that they really discuss their issues in public and they do so transparently.

The press then left the room, and I want to show you what happened when the press came back into the room.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Have our colleagues return, please.

YANG JIECHI, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF, CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY (through translator): When I entered this room I should have reminded the U.S. side of paying attention to its tone in our respective opening remarks.


ATWOOD: Now, as you can see, the Chinese officials wanted the press back in so that they could have their turn at a rebuttal. And they said that the U.S. had been condescending in their tone.

Now, a senior administration official said that after this unfolded before the cameras, the two sides got down to business. They had substantive and direct conversations. But we're still waiting to learn what really was the result of these meetings, because they have another round later today in Alaska.

And we should note that this is happening as tensions are on the rise between U.S. and Russia as well, so the Biden administration has a lot on their hands in the foreign policy space.

SCIUTTO: For sure. And often (ph) when they (ph) say (ph) direct conversations, that sometimes means even behind closed doors they might have been throwing some barbs. Kylie Atwood, great to have you on the story.

Well, California, New York and Florida all had vastly different plans for battling this pandemic. Is one state necessarily better off than the others? Is it fair to compare them? We're going to take a look.



SCIUTTO: Well, as the country pushes, hopes to get back to normalcy, Florida is not only back in business, it's been open for much of the last year. Now, Governor Ron DeSantis' gamble appears to be paying off -- at least politically. This as other governors nationwide now face steeper challenges.

Joining me now is Dr. Abraar Karan, he is an internal medicine doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School. Doctor, thanks so much for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: So this has been a political issue, right? Because sadly, politics has infected -- if that's the right word -- the approach to this on masks, on social distancing, on opening and closing restaurants and bars.

But now we have some data. We're a year in, and I'm going to throw some up on the screen. If you compare three states -- California, Florida and New York: three of the biggest states, biggest cases here -- on cases, infections, Florida, New York and California pretty much track. If you compare them on hospitalizations as well, California, Florida and New York pretty much track.

And I wonder, is it an apples-to-apples comparison between these states in terms of how they responded and what the challenge was?

KARAN: So it's definitely not an apples-to-apples comparison because what we're saying here is basically that different states had different policies, and we saw an outcome where if you're comparing certain metrics, it seems similar.

But you could say that if California did what Florida did, California would have been much worse off than it is right now. And in fact, California being where it is is because of the public health measures it took, not in spite of them. And the best example of this is that Los Angeles County, right? So

early in the year -- I'm from Los Angeles County, a lot of my medical school colleagues are now doctors training, working there -- and for much of the year, L.A. County was not doing that bad. And then when things started to reopen in October to December, L.A. County was decimated and actually counts for a vast majority of cases relative to counties in California.

SCIUTTO: Is density a factor here, is that one of the differences? I mean, for instance, New York City is one of the densest population centers in the country, in the world. And I remember speaking to Dr. Fauci early on, that was a factor in the spread of the disease there. I mean, is that a difference in that a state such as Florida -- a bit more spread out -- as opposed to --

KARAN: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- a place like New York or even Southern California, where you have a lot of people living in multifamily -- or multigenerational, rather -- homes?

KARAN: Absolutely. So population density, and also the kind of social interactions that you have. So in New York, you have a lot more people using public transport rather than being in their cars. In L.A. County, you had a lot of frontline workers that live in multigenerational households.

There are reasons why we saw these places get hit very hard when they did -- New York City early on, L.A. County at the end of 2020 -- whereas in Florida, things are a little bit different, right? The demographics are different. We actually do have more elderly people, and yes they have a higher risk of having a bad outcome, but they also have fewer contacts in the day than a frontline worker would.

So demographically they're different, the weather is different, the population (INAUDIBLE) different. So yes, they are factors there.

SCIUTTO: Is it possible then that because the circumstances of those states -- and really all the states -- are different, that the lesson is there was no one-size-fits-all strategy, right? To get the same outcome. Is that a way to look at this?


KARAN: Well, this is what I would say. The public health measures that we know work are sort of the same regardless, because we're dealing with the same virus, it transmits in the same ways, primarily through the air, droplets and aerosols.

So indoor crowing, not using masks? All of those things are going to be affecting you whether you're in Florida, whether you're in New York, whether you're in California. But the outcome you get may very well be a little bit different.

And now take the example of countries like -- or places like Wuhan, that had even more intensive measures where you couldn't just go and gather privately and things like that. There you saw an even more drastic decrease in the number of cases.

You know, even in California, I wouldn't say things were perfect, right? People were still -- people could still gather, frontline workers are not protected, which is a huge factor and we saw a lot of spread there. And you know, some of the policies like turning -- keeping beaches closed, for instance, may have led to people gathering more indoors during like July 4th, for instance. So you know, there are nuances to a lot of these policies.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, Dr. Karan, thanks so much for helping us go through this. As you know, too often, folks are throwing political charges back and forth, it's good to look at the data and learn something. We appreciate having you on.

KARAN: Thanks so much, Jim.

HARLOW: A year after the COVID-19 pandemic first swept the nation, we know nearly 30 million Americans have been infected with the virus and nearly 540,000 have died from it.

SCIUTTO: The number's staggering, half a million people. CNN national correspondent Miguel Marquez, here now with an up-close look at some of the people and the families behind those numbers. His one-hour special is called, "THE HUMAN COST OF COVID." Miguel, thanks so much for telling these stories. What did you learn?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, putting this into some sort of context, the millions of people who have contracted the virus, the hundreds of thousands who have died just in this country alone? This is PTSD America, it's PTSD world. Putting that into context is incredibly difficult with the mighty (ph) help of Michelle Rozsa, producer, and Jim Murphy to focus this in.

We found a town called Dalton, Georgia. It is sort of emblematic of everything that the country went through, the -- just the deep sadness of death, the fear of this virus, the anger created by it, the conspiracies that came out of it. And now, at the end of this very, very, very long tunnel, we're starting to see that little light, that light at the end of it, the vaccines. Here's a little bit of the documentary or the hour on that part of the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's still, in this community, a lot of vaccine hesitancy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have buy-in locally yet from the Latino community, and certainly not from the Caucasian community either.

MARQUEZ: Because they think the safety of it is not there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not only is it safe, it's do I actually need it.

DORA PRICE, GEORGIA RESIDENT: I'm not telling anybody not to go get vaccinated, because that would be irresponsible. I'm just saying I don't plan to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there's a lot of different myths, you know? One of them is, well, is this some kind of a tracking device?

MARQUEZ: You've heard that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. Does it make you infertile.

MARQUEZ: Do you think the vaccine is actually a vaccine?

PRICE: No. I don't want it.

MARQUEZ: What do you think it is?

PRICE: It's a vaccine, but I don't think that people have tested it enough, I don't think people know what really is in it.

MARQUEZ: In the vaccine?

PRICE: In the vaccine, yes.

MARQUEZ: Do you think there's a tracking device or anything nefarious?

PRICE: At one point it will be (ph) that.


MARQUEZ: So that person we were speaking to, she actually lost two members of her family to COVID. Many more members, about two dozen members, family and friends, got sick from COVID and yet doesn't believe.

And many of the stories, as much as people want the vaccine and how much demand there is for it, that vaccine hesitancy is still out there.

Dalton, Georgia's interesting because it's sort of a small city, a bit down in North Georgia. So it's fairly wealthy, it's the flooring capital of the world, they make a lot of carpets and flooring there. There's a very large Latino population that works in a lot of the plants there. It's Georgia, it's a big African-American population in the area as well.

So it touched on a lot of things that the country was dealing with. It's an interesting hour, and you know, for what all of us have been through in the last year, it is interesting to watch and see. Back to you guys.

HARLOW: Miguel, can we just -- can I ask what it's like for you? Because I mean, you were brought to tears after one of the pieces of reporting you did. You spent so much time in these E.R.s, I mean you were in it throughout this whole year.

MARQUEZ: It is hard not to break into tears now. You know, that worry that we all have, do I have this thing? You know, every cough, every sneeze, every bit of what you think is a fever, you think you might have it. Am I bringing it home to loved ones. That underlying fear.


You know, I mean, I certainly have never done anything like this other than cover Iraq and Afghanistan, where not only is the country focused on it but you always have that heightened sense of awareness and fear. It's been a hell of a year.

HARLOW: Yes, well. You've done a hell of a job. We're grateful to you, Miguel, we can't wait to watch, thank you. "THE HUMAN COST OF COVID" airs tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

Thank you all for being with us today and all week. Have a good weekend, we'll see you Monday morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.